Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Magee area overview 4/23

Mary Warren has already posted very useful and thorough lists of the bird species seen today at the Magee Marsh boardwalk, but some readers might be interested in an overview of today's migration in the general area. We have notes today from several hours at the boardwalk (Kenn K.); from the Black Swamp Bird Observatory's main banding site at the Navarre Unit of Ottawa National Wildlife Refuge, about five miles east of the turnoff to Crane Creek / Magee Marsh (Kim K., Julie Shieldcastle, and a team of wonderful volunteers); from the BSBO hawk watch, conducted from the tower next to the Sportsman's Migratory Bird Center at Magee Marsh, about halfway between Route 2 and the boardwalk (Dana Bollin and Lee Garling); and from the vicinity of the BSBO office, just north of Route 2 at the entrance to Crane Creek / Magee (Kim K. and others).

The numbers of migrants present today marked a dramatic increase from the end of last week. Yellow-rumped Warblers, White-throated Sparrows, and Hermit Thrushes were the three most numerous migrants at the boardwalk and at Navarre. Warbler variety was excellent, with at least 16 species seen at the boardwalk and a few others elsewhere. To give a sense of relative numbers, here are Kenn's counts from a total of five hours at the boardwalk: Orange-crowned 1, Nashville 4, Yellow 3, Yellow-rumped 500 (mostly adult males), Black-throated Green 12, Pine 5, Palm 45, Black-and-white 3, Worm-eating at least 1, Ovenbird 2, Northern Waterthrush 1, Louisiana Waterthrush 1. Seen by others here (presumably single birds) were Blue-winged, Yellow-throated, Hooded, and Common Yellowthroat. At the banding site at Navarre the overall species composition of warblers was similar, with the addition of a Chestnut-sided but with no Pine Warblers. Notable were two Worm-eating Warblers, at least two Hooded Warblers, and Louisiana Waterthrush (a record total of three were banded here the previous day). Additional warblers reported in the woodlot at the end of the road at Metzger Marsh were another Hooded, Northern Parula (John Sawvel), and a very early Blackpoll (Rick Nirschl).

In terms of non-warbler migrants, the abundance of Hermit Thrushes was notable, but the boardwalk also had at least 1 Wood Thrush and at least 2 Swainson's Thrushes (the Navarre site had Wood and Swainson's also). White-eyed, Red-eyed, and Warbling Vireos were all present in small numbers. The first Eastern Kingbird and first Bank Swallows (4) that we've had were along the beach at Magee, and at least three Lincoln's Sparrows were banded at Navarre. There were still a few Golden-crowned Kinglets but they were far outnumbered by Ruby-crowned Kinglets at both sites. Winter Wrens were still fairly numerous but we saw only one Rusty Blackbird today at the boardwalk, where there were still 30-plus last week. At Navarre, multiple Whip-poor-wills were calling pre-dawn.

There was a pronounced migration of Broad-winged Hawks but it was not evident out at the boardwalk or beach. Most of the birds were moving parallel to the lake shore but well inland, some passing south of the hawk watch tower and directly over the BSBO office, others seen south of Route 2. Ospreys and subadult Bald Eagles seemed to be moving on a broad front.

Eventually the numbers from the Navarre banding site and the hawk watch will be available on the BSBO web site ( www.bsbobird.org ). At this season, understandably, it's a challenge for us to keep up with the data! But we hope that this summary will be helpful to people who are learning about the sequence of migration through this amazing region.

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